Tuesday, 1 October 2013


Tuesday night UEFA Champions league match day 2 will provide a mouth watering clash between two managers who are no strangers to themselves, Rafa Benitez who have managed Liverpool and Chelsea while in England will lead Napoli as they come to the home of the longest serving manager in the premier league Arsene Wenger.

Arsenal who are enjoying a perfect start to the 2013/2014 season having won five consecutive matches after suffering a 3 - 1 defeat on the opening day of the season to Aston villa, Wenger and his side have now failed to win any European title since the french man took over in 1996, having reach the Champions league final once and loosing to Barcelona in 2006.  In 18 previous campaigns, Wenger has got past the semi-finals only three times and the most recent of those was 2009. Wenger does feel that circumstances have gone against him in the time since then, not least the literal luck of the draw. 

In contrast to that Rafa Benitez tends to have an obsession with European trophies, during his time with Liverpool he led them to a historical champions league final victory over Ac Milan where his team came from 3 goals down to defeat the Italian giants on penalties. Two years later he led his Liverpool team against the same opponent but this time they weren't as lucky as they went on to loose to Ac Milan.
Even before his time with Liverpool, Rafa won the Europa Cup with Spanish club Valencia, he also went on to add another European cup to his CV last season during his very short spell with Chelsea with a win over FC Basel who themselves have handed Chelsea a defeat already this season in the UEFA champions league.
Benitez may be call the "master of the European nights" by many but the Arsenal Manager is not moved as he insists that all that doesn't matter. "I don't think that makes the difference. The difference is that the teams have the quality. You know in the big games the difference is very small. Tomorrow(today) it could be down to anything -- a free-kick, a penalty. It helps to prepare. Once the game has started, you still have an influence but the fact you have played a final, played a semifinal, that little difference will not make the difference in the game." 
Speaking about the game tonight Rafa Benitez whose team seats second in the Italian serie A table one point behind leaders AS Roma, said "We play against a team that have ball possession as a strength. Against Dortmund [in Napoli's 2-1 opening-game win], we had to work to be careful of counter-attacking. Now we need to change approach, as Arsenal will use ball possession." 
Arsenal despite loosing out to Napoli for the signature of Argentine strike Gonzalo Higuain  who can single handedly change the complexity of a game with a goal, have done a lot of good to their confidence with the signing of the German pass master Mesut Ozil, an acquisition that have seen them rise top of the Barclay's premier league table 8 points above champions Manchester United with Mesut providing three assists on the way.
When asked about what transpired between Arsenal and the agent of Higuain during the summer after it was reported that the striker was all but set to become and Arsenal player, Wenger was quick to avoid the question and instead choose to rain praises on the Napoli Boss by calling him a "Top class manager". While Benitez on the other hand complimented the praise by calling the Wenger "the best coach in the premier league".
On whether Arsene Wenger can fill the void in his Cv by lifting the Champions league trophy, Benitez replied yes he can! but definitely not this season, but Wenger feels otherwise stating that if only his team can qualify from the group which include Olympic Marseille  Dortmund and Napoli then they stand a chance to win it . Who will blame the Arsenal manager when his team are playing their best football at the moment?

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